Families are Cutting Landlines to Save Money, But Still Aren’t Ready to Give Their Kids a Cell Phone

My daughter is fascinated by corded phones – it amazes her that I used to talk on the phone with a cord chaining me to one spot!

She also can’t believe that when I left the house, I didn’t have a phone and no one could contact me. Cell phones were not widespread until high school when my cell phone was mammoth and had an enormous antenna. (Who else remembers lugging those things around??)

So, because I come from the “stone age,” apparently, cutting the cord was a big deal for us! Not only did we lose a phone to share with the whole family, but we now face the challenge of giving our daughter access to a phone as she gets older. We don’t want her to have a cell phone yet, but need something, don’t we? 

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5 Phones for Kids Without a Landline

Without a dedicated family phone, kids will have struggles. How can their friends call them? (Remember talking to your bff for hours at a time on that one phone the family shared and driving your little brother mad?) How would they call someone in an emergency if they were home alone? How do they contact you when they’re out with friends, since pay phones are also obsolete?

Here are 5 alternatives local families have found for kid phones when they eliminated their landline.

1 – Verizon Gizmo Phone Watch for Kids

Gizmo Watch is like a smart watch for kids. Available to Verizon customers for a monthly fee, Gizmo lets kids call parents and send messages to persons you authorize on their contact list. It offers GPS locating and can even alert you when your child is out of GPS radius. Your kid can play at a friends’ house and easily ask you if they can stay later, and you can also message them to come home if needed.

2 – Magic Jack

You can use a regular “old fashioned” phone with Magic Jack. Simply plug the Magic Jack into your modem or computer and you’ve got access! There’s a yearly fee to use it.

3 – Pay as you go/Prepaid Phone Plans

These phones can be purchased at Best Buy, Walmart, Meijer, or any number of retailers. Most of the major wireless carriers also offer prepaid phones instead of requiring you to sign a contract. If you plan to only use this phone occasionally or for emergencies, this might be a great option for you.

4 – Relay-Go

Relay-Go is a super walkie talkie that kids can take with them anywhere. For a monthly fee, you can use Relay-Go to talk to friends and family with the push of a button. A GPS tracker allows parents to see where their kids are after school or out in the neighborhood with friends.

5 – iPods with Facetime

This only works for families that all have iPhones, but kids can call Grandma or Grandpa via FaceTime on their iPods (or iPads) using your home’s wifi. They can also message Apple users via iMessage. My friend’s kids have this and love being able to talk to send their Aunts and Uncles funny photos they take and talking to their cousins. There is no monthly cost for this.

The Pros and Cons of Dropping Your Landline

If you have always had a landline, eliminating it will be quite a big change for you. The pros outweigh the cons for many families. Here’s a look at what you are sacrificing and gaining if you drop the landline:

Pros:

  • Saves Money. Landlines are not cheap!
  • Fewer Telemarketing Calls. The telemarketers don’t find you as easily on a cell phone. (Though they seem to have been catching on lately…) 

Cons:

  • Kids lose phone access. They can’t just call their friends or Grandma and Grandpa. They need to find you and borrow your phone. Which you are already using to look up a recipe for dinner or read up on the strange rash that the baby suddenly has, so your phone is not really available. 
  • You lose fast access in an emergency. Cell phones can sometimes end up, well, anywhere, and they need to be tracked down to make a call. This can be especially concerning if an emergency arises. A solution? Create a “home base” or charging area for your cell phones. This will hopefully be a place where you know a cell phone or two will be when you are at home, eliminating the frustrating search for them.
  • 911, Can You Hear Me?? If you’re not calling from a landline, it is more difficult for 911 dispatchers to determine your location. One solution is to sign up for Smart911, which will allow 911 dispatchers to view your location and critical information via your safety profile that you create. Another very practical solution is to be sure your kids have your address (and cross streets) memorized well!

Have you cut your landline? What phone idea did you use for your kids?

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